Spectacular food, Sunday Lunches & Spooky Loos - The Elephant's Head, Hackney

Before we had even identified the location of The Elephant's Head in Hackney, my husband had spotted and admired the frontage from the other side of the road. It was a good omen for what turned out to be a fantastic night out which, let's face it,  on a cold damp Wednesday in March is not always guaranteed.
bar at The Elephant's Head, Hackney, review

 The owner of the newly refurbished pub has a passion for architectural salvage and once through the heavy maroon curtains keeping the draughts from the interior you enter into a vintage lovers paradise with plenty to look at and admire from the feature fireplace to a frankly spectacular glass ceiling feature. It wasn't originally there but it's a great fit for the space.

The Elephant's Head, Hackney, review

The Elephant's Head, Hackney, review

Turns out the menu is as interesting as the venue. Hackney is still in the process of being "up and coming" being a blend of cheap takeaways and charity shops and hipster coffee shops and trendy community work spaces.

Housing costs are high, reflecting the area's proximity to central London and great transport access (it took just 16 minutes to get there on tube and overground from Euston) but The Elephant's Head prices are very reasonable which I'm sure will make this an extremely popular hangout with locals with good taste and massive mortgages. There are plenty of tables so it would be great for celebrations and meet-ups.

candlelit tables at The Elephant's Head, Hackney, review

I've mentioned good value and in my opinion food is competitively priced, especially when you take into account the quality. Take their Sunday lunch for instance which comes with bottomless vegetables for under £15 (prices vary depending which meat or veggie/vegan main feature you choose).

I sampled the 35 day aged shorthorn beef with a massive homemade yorkshire pud, horseradish and gravy and the medium-rare meat was melt in the mouth tender.

You can opt for a generous sharing jug of Bloody Mary cocktails if your Saturday hangover is still bothering you or choose something from the bar - there's an excellent cocktail menu and my husband tells me the beer selection is impressive too. Take a stool at the window to watch the world go by,

window seats at The Elephant's Head, Hackney, review

Staff are passionate and knowledgeable so ask about the beer, or any of the food menu items if you want help with choosing.

Luckily I was able to try taster portions of a number of menu items. Food is not fussy but is well-sourced and imaginative.

I love fish and seafood and adored the langoustines with bacon, Secret Smokehouse salmon, (smoked locally) which was served with refreshing cucumber and dill. Battered Cod cheeks were not the slightest bit greasy and the meat was firm and tasty. 10 out of 10 for the mushy peas too.

seafood at The Elephant's Head, Hackney, review

The Elephant's Head chicken wings dish was made extra special with the addition of  homemade grilled pineapple Habanero hot sauce. Be warned, every batch is different and may pack varying levels of heat!

chicken wings with homemade hot sauce The Elephant's Head, Hackney, review

The Oscar for best menu item for price, quality and taste goes to..... The Elephant's Head scotch egg. A Buford brown egg with a creamy, just runny yolk, enrobed in Vicar's game sausage meat (wild boar) and light and crispy breadcrumbs. At just £4 as a side dish this beauty alone made our trip to Hackney worthwhile.

Scotch egg The Elephant's Head, Hackney, review

Now I am famous for being a passionate carnivore but be assured vegetarians and vegans are well catered for and children are welcome too.

I want to take my brood back there just to experience the trip to the toilets underneath the pub. I reckon these are the best pub toilets in London and beyond making a simple comfort break an experience that Thorpe Park's fright night team would be proud of.

spooky toilets The Elephant's Head, Hackney, review

The inspiration for the unusual underground area was apparently an old prison door which the owner picked up to use as his office door on one of his many salvage yard trips. He wanted to make a feature of it and now (if you dare) you descend steps into a darkened and spooky, smoke filled underworld with a cobbled floor and atmospheric music making you wish you'd grabbed a friend to accompany you.

The Elephant's Head has had many incarnations since it started life as a traditional Victorian pub. Brought back to it's former glory now with respectful nods to the past and feet firmly in the present this is one restoration which hopefully will last the course offering good value, good food, good vibes and a more than comprehensive selection of just about everything behind the bar with talented and friendly staff to serve you.

The Elephant's Head, Hackney, review
Disclaimer: I enjoyed a taster menu and drinks free at The Elephant's Head, 43, Lower Clapton Road, Hackney for the purpose of this honest review.
Family Fever